Justice for Dairy Farmworkers Event: Today, May 4

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Kickoff of State-Wide Justice for Dairy Farmworkers Speakers Tour    

When:  Sunday, May 7-9 p.m.

Where:  At the Freedom School – Cornerstone Community Church, 500 Plant Street, Utica (Oneida Square)

Event description:
An immigrant farmworker who has worked on Upstate dairy farms and an organizer for a local workers’ center will speak at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 4 as part of a statewide speaking tour aimed at improving the lives of immigrant farmworkers. The talk and a brief slideshow will be given by Jose Canas, who is originally from El Salvador, and Rebecca Fuentes, of West Monroe, who is lead organizer for the Syracuse-based Workers’ Center of Central New York.The local talk is free, but donations will be accepted to support the workers’ center. Light refreshments will be served.
Jose Cañas has a dream: empowerment and social justice for New York’s immigrant dairy farm workforce. His vision stems from three years of exposure to physical and emotional abuses as a New York dairy farmworker. He has experienced or witnessed wage theft, accidents and injuries due to employer negligence, nightly fevers due to indecent housing, and depression from social isolation. In solidarity with Jose, and the thousands of immigrant workers in the New York dairy industry, we have organized the NYS Justice for Dairy Farmworkers campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to advocate for and support dairy farmworkers in their struggle for basic labor and human rights.

What:  On Sunday, May 4, an 11-day-long statewide peaking tour will stop in Utica to draw attention to the plight of immigrant dairy farmworkers and to build support for the Justice for Dairy Farmworkers campaign. A presentation entitled “Dairy Farm Workers Organizing for Justice” will be given.

Who:  Workers Center of Central New York, Worker Justice Center of New York, Local co-sponsors include Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., IWW, Mohawk Valley Freedom School, Occupy Utica, Workers Center of Central NY, Working Families Party, and MoveOn.   

Why:  The dairy industry is New Yorks leading agricultural sector and New York is a leading dairy producer in the nation. In fact, in 2012, New York became the countrys number one producer of yogurt. This boom in dairy production, however, has come at a significant cost to the workers whose labor has made it all possible. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there have been 55 fatalities on dairy farms in New York State since 2006.  Interviews will be available with the speakers.

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